“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it” — Confucius
Roll up, roll up it’s time for your weekly travel fix, and after galivanting away from home in recent weeks it’s back to Cornwall for our second instalment of ‘10 Beaches you Must Visit’.
The question is what did we learn from Part 1?
Well after only five locations we’ve already gathered that Cornish beaches are as unique as they come – quirky, exclusive, secluded, rustic, relaxing, tranquil, the list could go on. From the surfer’s paradise Fistral to Lusty Glaze with its spectacular sunsets, these beaches can galvanize the imagination.
If somehow you’ve managed to skip Part 1 then you’re missing out. Go read it, five beaches including Crantock, St Ives, Pedn Vounder, and the two previously mentioned will enlighten your beach friendly mind, whilst introducing you to the world of Cornwall and its wonderful relationship with the beach. You won’t be disappointed, that’s a promise.
Okay, hopefully at this point everyone has caught up on the first five beaches?… Excellent!
So, our next contingent have a lot to live up too that’s for sure, but where better to keep producing the goods than Cornwall. Following on from Part 1 we have some seafronts capable of matching if not beating those before it, whilst blowing your mind at the same time. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but these shores will most definitely get your travellers feet itching and a beach lovers mind racing. So, without further delay lets continue our run down of ’10 Beaches you Must Visit When in Cornwall’ with Part 2 and five more dreamy locations…
Bedruthen Steps, most definitely the lovable rogue of the group. If beaches were celebrities this beach would be a Johnny Depp or a Tom Hardy. Rough around the edges with an attitude to match, yet somehow attractive, open, and engaging. It’s that boy your mother always used to warn you about, with that beach blonde hair and blue eyes… A heartbreaker. Biker jacket, boots, and tattoos, a wink to make the knees go weak… Trouble!
On the outlook a place which shouldn’t be appealing… But oh how it is.
Attraction is a funny thing, and in this case it’s a jaw-dropping piece of work by mother nature herself which provides the draw. A coastal path which year by year and storm by storm holds siege to natural elements intent on constantly altering its appearance. Cliffs which have more scars than a bareknuckle boxer, facing vicious onslaughts from both the ravenous waters below and wind on a warpath. The receding land literally crumbling away at your feet as you make your way around towards the top of “The Steps”. Nature’s own walkway, both sickly steep and nervously narrow which dangerously descends downwards.
Just like escaping out of your bedroom window for a secret rendezvous, a sure thing to get the pulse racing.
At the bottom of Bedruthen Steps lies a beach with jagged rockfaces, a brutal waterfront, and a scene to make your heart skip a beat. Only at low-tide can visitors reach its sandy shores, but what greets those who do is both remarkable and frightening. Huge rock formations line the beach, in no order whatsoever, whilst boulders of rubble from the crumbling cliffs litter the outskirts. This isn’t a beach for sunbathing or swimming, it’s for those who want to walk amongst monsters.
Care must be taken not only from potential falling debris, but the incoming tide which rapidly engulfs the entire beach. Get your timings wrong and you’re getting cut off.
Is it worthwhile then?
You bet it is… Secluded, dangerous, but unmistakably beautiful with its fresh golden sands. The views from above are no less impressive, and in fact show the entirety of the landscape in all its glory.
A National Trust café based near the car park at the beginning of the coastal path is also a perfect way to finish off your visit. Sit in the sun with some of the best homemade Cornish scones around, whilst washing it down with a Cornish milkshake or tea… A clotted cream kind of heaven.
“There is no real beauty without some slight imperfection” James Salter once said, and he could not have been more right. Bedruthen Steps with all its imperfections is the epitome of natural beauty. On paper not the best location, but you’ll not find too many people who’ve travelled around this monumental coastal spot and not had their breath taken away.
What we find attractive is unique to us. What is beautiful in one person’s eyes will not be so in another’s, it’s what makes life interesting. If our interests all revolved around the same things life would be… Well bluntly put, boring…
Plus, everyone loves a bad boy!
There’s something about lesser known beaches which make them that extra little bit of special. To find a spot of sandy joy which you’ve somehow stumbled across or been tipped off about brings it closer to your heart. It’s not the commercialised version, it’s not where the crowds go, it’s not the generic template… It’s unique. For me Porthtowan is that beach. Stumbled across years ago and now a personal favourite, it must be included in any trip to Cornwall.
Porthtowan, a beach which is neither big nor small, is perfectly set in a valley surrounded by dramatic hills. It is a favourite for surfers, locals and travellers alike due to its exclusivity and relaxing atmosphere. A blue flag beach, which prides itself on being exceptionally clean and inviting to all that visit. For surfers of all abilities to ride the waves here as the sun goes down should be on every bucket list.
Although you might not get the waves of larger and more popular beaches, Porthtowans pristine uncrowded ocean and views which come with it trump the lot. Plus let’s not knock the surf, it can be damn good at times.
Sat on the edge of the beach is The Blue Bar… Neither fancy nor glamorous, just a good old-fashioned surf shack. With outdoor benches, inside bay window seating, a range of local craft beers and ciders, and some real good comfort food to warm the stomach, it’s a prime spot for those who have braved the chilly evening waters… And whether you’re in a group or on your own their dirty chips are to die for.
It’s also another great beach for sunset hunters, and the Blue Bar is a faultless venue to observe a splodgy surfy sundown. A visit to Cornwall for me without an evening in the picturesque Porthtowan, with a plate of dirty chips and a Cornish Rattler, whilst watching the surfers as the sun go down just wouldn’t feel right.
Watergate Bay, one of the best-known beaches in not only Cornwall but the whole of the UK, its reputation only matched by its size. At low-tide this beach can stretch for 2 miles long, with crisp golden sands and some huge Atlantic swell enticing surfing enthusiasts, beach lovers, and families alike. Popular doesn’t always mean better, but despite all Watergates downfalls it is extremely hard not to find it a place in your heart.
Due to its enormity, flawless appearance, and cascading waters it’s no real surprise that Watergate bay is so popular amongst tourists. There is no hiding from the fact that it’s become a touristic location, and with that evidently can come pitfalls. Amongst communities who prefer to avoid the crowds, not be extorted, and have very little interest in visiting commercialised places it divides opinion. During the summer months especially, these aspects can be repellent and deterring to those wishing to jump into the south-wests true culture.
There are however always two sides to any coin, and what for some is a total put-off is for others a big pull. Pricey Watergate may be, but with its boisterous beach bars, stylish restaurants (one of which with the Jamie Oliver name to it), a surf academy, and a five-star hotel it’s got a certain appeal for some folk. The only thing I doubt you’ll find much argument about is the astronomical cost of parking, and the battle to find a space… But I guess beggars can’t be choosers.
With all its negative press in this respect, I must point out that this only comes from being top of the class. Its like comparing Cristiano Ronaldo to a player plying their trade in the lower echelons of the football ladder. The majority of others will never receive the amount of criticism or be judged to the standard of the best players in the world, and it’s the same with Britain’s beaches. Watergate is as beaches go world-class, and for that unfortunately you have to pay, just like choosing to watch Real Madrid over Grimsby Town.
Watergate is what it is. You either love it or you don’t. Whether you do, or you don’t it can’t be denied its rightful reputation as one of the best beaches in Britain. When taking everything else out of the equation, judging it based solely on its beach qualities alone, it’s like a peacock in full bloom… Majestic. The mesmerizing sight on a summers day as the sun glistens on the tips of waves which roll through like clockwork, is enough to catch anyone’s imagination. For so many windsurfers and surfers it’s those winning combinations which make it their Cornish beach of choice.
Personally, I believe after a certain length of time outlying aspects can sometimes make you under-appreciate such a place. It’s exuberant, it has a character, it is a true Cornish wonder, and it’s not until you visit out of season (when you are literally the only soul around) that it hits you in an overwhelming fashion. A resonating moment if there ever was one, and therefore Watergate Bay is a beach you must visit when in Cornwall. Does it revel in the limelight a bit too much?
Of course it does, but at the end of the day it’s still what’s underneath that counts.
Like the quiet individual at a party, Harlyn bay can quite easily go unnoticed. Largely unheard about outside of Cornish travelling circles, its unassuming nature is one to be admired and enjoyed. White sands reminiscent of somewhere far more exotic than the south-coast, and an uncharacteristically calm sea lend itself to being one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Cornwall. If that wasn’t enough then the perfectly peaceful atmosphere which accompanies these traits make it almost too good to be true.
A beach off the beaten track which allows you to get away from the hustle and bustle of Newquay and its surrounding areas, Harlyn bay is a real breath of fresh air to stuffy sinuses. Its white sands give it a really luxury undertone, whilst its millpond like waters are ideal for bathing in on a warm sunny day. Not only is the sea the opposite of most Cornish beaches in how relatively calm it is, but its translucent beautiful blue colour is as about as enticing as any beach can get. Tranquil and unspoilt, with a touch of class and elegance.
In the height of summer, you could quite easily mistake this beach for somewhere in the southern hemisphere, it honestly has that look about it. However, what puts the final touches to this masterpiece is the thoroughly relaxing sensation you get from being here, away from everything, not a care in the world. To live a care-free existence is something many strive for but very little succeed in achieving. So, if you’re the type of person which really needs to unwind and lose yourself in the moment then this is the beach for you.
Porth Joke (Polly Joke)
Last but by no means least a beach which cries out to those who love true beauty and nature in its original format. No fancy frills or spills – no cafes, no bars, no restaurants, no events… Nothing. In fact no basic amenities what so ever. You’re out in the wild with this one, and that’s its charm. A large proportion of other beaches are made by what’s in the vicinity, or how they’ve been developed… Not Polly Joke. If you travelled back in time I’m more than certain you wouldn’t recognise any differences between then and now.
Perfect for ramblers or travellers who enjoy to explore whilst also idyllic for those who crave picturesque seclusion, this beach is mistakenly overlooked by many who travel around the cornish coasts. The lack of amenities puts off many families with younger children, and its accessibility is probably another reason Polly Joke tends not to be high on the list of beaches to visit. A walk in the countryside around the headland from Crantock is one way of getting to Polly Joke, and although requires effort it isn’t anything most people wouldn’t be able to handle. This route also more importantly gives everyone the opportunity to admire the wonderful scenery surrounding West Pentire point along the way. If walking’s not your thing though, then a small car park half a mile inland is your only other option. Quite selfishly I don’t mind this, it leaves the beach spotless and abandoned… All the more for yourself to enjoy.
Small and quiet, however full of wonder, enjoyment, and individuality Polly Joke is no less pretty then any of the best beaches in the area. Caves, rockpools, surf and sand-dunes, with wildflowers during certain seasons, all set in a deserted cove… What more could you want?
For me, my memories of this beach (which lies only a stones throw away from Newquay and rural life) completely revolve around evening BBQs. Sat at the back of the beach in the minuscule dunes or sheltered up along the rocks, there’s nowhere better to relax with a hotdog and beer whilst partaking in a typical Cornish traveller’s tradition.
Stripped back to nothing but it’s birthday suit Polly Joke is exceptional in every way. Whether it’s your stunning girlfriend, amazing wife, or even just your friend without their makeup on, what’s underneath the mask can be far more picture perfect than what has covered it up. What you see is what you get with Polly Joke, and personally just like with my girlfriend I wouldn’t have it any other way (and no she didn’t force me to say that)… Natural attractiveness is something which is unfortunately rather undervalued these days.